3-On-3: Assessing The Warriors At The Midpoint Of The Season
The Golden State Warriors (29-20) have passed the midway point of the season, and we the Warriors World staff assesses the team in this latest installment of 3-on-3.
1. Best part of the Golden State Warriors season?
Danny Leroux: The defense. Adding Andre Iguodala to the team and having more minutes from a healthy Andrew Bogut combined with some effort and movement improvement from Skinny David Lee has given the Warriors the ability to control games on both ends. As of now, Golden State sits fourth in the entire NBA in defensive efficiency, a gigantic improvement from last year and worlds better than the Steph/Monta era.
On top of that, the Dubs still have plenty of room to get better on that end by playing Draymond and Andre together at various points. The two of them could wreak havoc on opposing offenses and create fast break opportunities when the offense gets out of rhythm. Eventually bringing back Jermaine O’Neal and/or Festus Ezeli would help as well since center depth has been a major limiting factor recently.
Joseph Duruaku: Stephen Curry’s rise to superstardom. He has elevated his game this season. Labeling him a sharpshooting point guard is no longer valid. Curry has cemented his name among the league’s best playmakers; averaging a career high in assists, Curry proved that last year’s All-Star snub was unjust. The big picture: Stephen Curry will only improve his game, once his reaches his defensive potential, nothing will stop him from becoming the best point guard in the NBA.
J.M. Poulard: Stephen Curry’s made the “leap”. The second half of his 2012-13 campaign was nothing short of sensational, and he was terrific during in his first postseason appearance. Still, there was no guarantee he would improve coming into this season, and yet that’s exactly what he’s done, which is why he will be starting for the Western Conference All-Stars.
2. Most disappointing part of the Golden State Warriors season?
Danny Leroux: The lack of creativity and willingness to try different things in terms of lineups and rotations. While the team has played well overall, we are more than halfway through the season and have seen shockingly little of some of the groupings that could be most impactful in the playoffs. Shockingly little Harrison Barnes at PF next to a true center, minimal minutes with David Lee anchoring the offense when Curry sits, and only about five minutes per game with Andre and Draymond playing together.
While some of these configurations will inevitably crash and burn, others could provide major advantages against elite opponents and potentially unlock more potential in players who have underperformed so far.
The lack of creativity part also goes into the offense, which uses far too much iso ball and lots of possessions where the ball sticks too far away from Curry. Watching a fair amount of Portland the last few weeks reminds me that a more active offense could work beautifully with the main group of starters who all have nice court vision for their positions and can be willing passers.
Joseph Duruaku: Harrison Barnes. It is surprising how many opportunities Mark Jackson throws Barnes’ way when he produces nothing of significance. The Barnes bandwagon fired up when he showed some signs of brilliance against the San Antonio Spurs. Keep in mind that he was defended by Tony Parker.
The Warriors used this mismatch and sent Barnes into the post repeatedly. This season, Mark Jackson has done more of the same, but Barnes does not possess the passing skills or the proper post moves to consistently score or create in the post. Hopefully Barnes can turn this season around after the All-Star break.
J.M. Poulard: The inability to tinker. The Warriors have largely been bland so far this season with their lineups and must experiment to some degree, especially with Andrew Bogut. The Aussie typically holds things together defensively for the team, however he is often left on the bench in favor of five-man units that are more offensive minded.
Instead, the coaching staff might want to consider playing four perimeter players every now and then with Bogut. Granted, Golden State’s center has shown that he is more than willing to take hard fouls regardless of the amount he has accumulated throughout the contest, thus Mark Jackson would have to be judicious on this end, but it’s still something worth turning to every now and then.
Consider this: Heading into the contest versus the Charlotte Bobcats, the Warriors were outscoring teams by 13.9 points per 100 possessions in the 38 minutes Barnes played at power forward next to Bogut per NBA.com. As reference point, the Indiana Pacers outscore teams by 8.4 points per 100 possessions.
3. What needs to change in the second half of this season?
Danny Leroux: While my answer for #2 hits many of the big notes here, another one has to be improved all-around play from Klay Thompson. I fully understand that his offensive game will have bouts of inconsistency since so many of his shots are threes but he needs to contribute more regularly in other facets of the game to become more dominant when things are going well and less of a drag when they are not.
His defense continues to be underrated but Klay has the second-worst rebound rate of any starting shooting guard without getting many assists, steals, or (most importantly) free-throw attempts. A player whose ideal offensive role does not require him to be flying around the court should be far more active in these other ways, especially when his backcourt mate shoulders so much of the offensive burden.
An improved Klay combined with more creative rotations and ideally a more dynamic offense would make the Warriors a much tougher out in the playoffs.
Joseph Duruaku: The Warriors need to be able to string wins together. Prior to their ten-game win streak, they struggled to piece together an identity. Jackson’s club would win four games, lose three straight, win one and lose two more. After the streak, the inconsistency plague struck them again. A home loss to Washington commanded the attention of the media. In a conference that has contending teams filling the 1-8 spots, winning as many games as possible is a necessity.
J.M. Poulard: Turnovers. The Dubs need to drastically reduce them because they are not yet good enough defensively to make up for a game in which they are extremely sloppy with the ball.